Business Leaders for Michigan — a business roundtable composed of some of the state’s most senior executives — today unveiled its plans aimed at helping Michigan become a top 10 economic competitor.
The revised plan builds upon the original Michigan Turnaround Plan, first launched in 2009. While the state has made considerable progress since then, there’s room for improvement, says Doug Rothwell, BLM’s president and CEO.
“Historically, this has been where Michigan gets complacent,” Rothwell says. “We’re no longer on our backs, we’re no longer 50th out of 50 in all of the (national) rankings. And when things get a little better, we tend to take our eye off of the ball, which is why we’re coming out with the revamp of the plan right now.”
Rothwell says the new plan features three major steps: making Michigan more competitive via tax and fiscal reform, greater cohesion attracting and growing jobs, and more collaborative local government; investing in roads and education; and growing innovation that, in turn, will create more jobs.
“About a third of our (long-term) debt has been paid off, but about two-thirds hasn’t been,” Rothwell says. “(We also need to) get the budget reserve fund up to about 5 percent of operating expenses. Right now, it’s at 1 percent — which is not as deep as we would like it to be.”
The report also highlights the importance of making sure that when people do come to Michigan, they leave with a good impression, Rothwell says. “We need to make sure we represent our state well (through its airports and welcome and convention centers),” he says.
In regards to tax reform, Rothwell says the BLM believes the state has made great progress. “The only big tax issue left in Michigan, we think, is the personal property tax, which there’s going to be a ballot measure on later this summer. Once we do that, Michigan’s tax system will be as competitive as anywhere else in the country.”
With that in mind, the timing of the release is important, says Jeff M. Fettig, chair of the Business Leaders for Michigan board of directors and chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corp. “With this being an election year, it’s a great way to get some of the issues on the table, and get them talked about in the right circles. We’re more confident than ever that we can have a profound impact on the economic development of job growth and investment in the state,” he says.
To promote the revised plan, the organization is launching a television, radio, and digital campaign today and will host regional forums throughout the state starting in mid-April. To learn more, visit michiganturnaroundplan.com. To read the full plan, click here.
Note: This article was updated at 3:40 p.m. on April 2.